Online education

A primer on home slaughter

“I like to call myself ‘I live to eat.’ My whole life revolves around food,” says James Paysker. As butcher, business owner and COO of Porter Road Butcher in Nashville, Tennessee, James and his co-founder Chris Carter have spent the past decade building an empire.

I called on James to show me some of the basic skills and techniques I can use to further my skills in slaughtering common items at home. may be contrary to Porter Road Butcher and butchers across the country make their living by serving customers and creating custom his cuts and orders on demand. But James was more than happy to let him spend the day showcasing his skills and philosophy. “The fun part of my job is educating people to enjoy food and cooking.”

Below are some of the advice James gave, along with specific techniques he showed for butchering two common types of meat in your home kitchen.

A primer on home slaughter

This primer is for anyone looking to start a butcher shop at home.

Encouraging those seeking more sophisticated knowledge beyond the traditional series of texts and books devoted to this subject to take advantage of technology such as videos, podcasts, applications, online education and virtual events, We are promoting. These are now widely available to take your butcher shop to the next level. It’s the best.

In that regard, a defining feature I have discovered in my travels is that I learn the art of butchering as much through trial and error as most butchers do through apprenticeship. It’s been around, but it’s still evolving. Practicing and learning these techniques, whether basic or detailed, can provide a lifetime of enjoyment and self-improvement, not to mention the opportunity to pass on your knowledge and passion to those who follow you.


Unlike in the old days, modern butcher shops typically have sawdust-laden floors and a mineral-scented, funky air. Mostly, you’ll find bright, well-designed shops that are squeaky clean.As James says, everything changed after that jungle, an Upton Sinclair novel that exposes the meat processing industry of the past and ushers in new standards and regulations still in practice today. If you plan to work with raw meat or other items at home, you should follow the practices employed by professionals.

At home, the countertop is usually the most stable and best place for slaughtering. It should be cleaned and disinfected regularly. Ideally, the countertop is also at a comfortable height. While cutting and chopping with the help of a stable counter is important, using gravity to place certain items on the counter and pull or tear other items hanging from the surface is also a bigger challenge. If you are working in a smaller kitchen, you want to eliminate the possibility of unintentionally contaminating other surfaces or items, such as a fruit bowl, which should be moved before work. Be aware of other items that may be around the butcher area. If countertop space is an issue, you can use a sturdy, sanitized surface such as a table or a dedicated butcher block.

Having access to a nearby trash can makes it easy to throw items away without touching other surfaces. Of course, keeping your hands and other items clean is very important, so a sink where you wash your hands and tools with warm water and antibacterial soap throughout the process is ideal. It is important to properly clean and sanitize your equipment and tools.

Also, be careful with your attire. It is recommended that you wear washable aprons and clothing as practice can be a hassle.

As with most things in life, preparation is key here. I like to create a mental game plan for the process ahead of time because it can contaminate other surfaces like refrigerator handles and cabinet handles. Have storage options ready and clear up fridge and freezer space before starting your routine.

The more you think about the process, the better the results and the easier the cleanup.


When I asked James about the items he needed to butcher at home, he sounded like a minimalist. “Find a sharp knife you’re familiar with. That’s really all you need,” he says. For James, that sharp knife he means two boning knives. Stiff knives can be used for tasks that require heavier work, such as cutting joints, small bones, and cartilage, while semi-flexible deboning knives have a bit more springiness, which is useful when filleting. . Cut off the silvery skin from the fish, or tenderloin. So, although sharp knives are James’s primary tool of the trade, he’s collected a few useful items for home butchers that are available at most kitchen supply stores and his shop online.

  • knife
    • Hard and semi-flexible boning knives, breaking knives, paring knives and heavy duty cleavers.
  • honing/sharpening steel
    • Used to sharpen the blade of sharpened knives.
  • A sharpener or machine for sharpening knives at home
    • Note: Several kitchen appliances, retailers and mail-order companies now conveniently offer this service.
  • boning hook
    • Used to hold meat to the cutting board when carving meat.
  • Gambrels
    • Used for hanging or hanging cuts of meat.
  • Cut Resistant Mesh Gloves
  • kitchen apron
  • kitchen scissors
  • butcher paper
  • butcher’s twine
  • Masking tape
    • Use to secure wrapped butcher paper, if desired.
  • sharpie marker
    • Keep it handy to indicate the contents and date of the packaged item.
  • cutting board
    • Ideally, a board dedicated to poultry.
  • storage container
    • Top plate, wire rack, airtight container, bag.
  • clean towel
  • hand soap and dish soap
  • Non-Toxic and Antibacterial Cleaner
    • If you want to avoid harsh chemicals, you can make your own cleaning solution for countertops, cabinets, cutting boards, and other surfaces. Simply mix 1 cup of white distilled vinegar with 1 cup of distilled water. Note: Vinegar is acidic and should not be used on soft stone surfaces such as granite or marble.
  • first aid kit

common butcher techniques

Whole chicken and beef tenderloin are two meats you can conveniently butcher at home. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to do this.

whole chicken

In my opinion, butchering a whole chicken is a necessary skill for any avid home cook. You can almost feel the fear in people’s eyes.

First and foremost, buying a whole chicken is usually at least 20-30% cheaper than buying a single cut. You get the best of all worlds: put that backbone or other trimmings in the freezer to elevate the rest of your meal, while having a great selection of white and dark meats to feed your family. However, not all chickens are created equal. James is a firm believer in sourcing hormone-free birds with lots of roaming territory. You can taste the results. The meat will be slightly darker in color, more flavorful and very tender. As previously mentioned, it is always recommended to dedicate the plastic board to poultry work only. The following method is just one of his methods (James’ method) of disassembling a chicken. This method can be emulated in game birds as well as turkeys. That said, there are many different techniques available to achieve similar results.

1. With the bird’s breast facing up and the butt end facing you, pull the chicken leg to loosen it and use a stiff boning knife to slice the skin to expose the leg.

2. Flip the chicken over and use your hands to pull the leg up the spine to dislodge the thigh bone from its socket.

3. Stick your thumb into the oyster (the small circular black piece of meat on the back of the thigh), turn your foot inside out, and slice each thigh from the back. There should be little resistance when following a natural fracture of the thighbone. .

4. Separate the leg from the thigh. Use a knife to follow a thin line of fat as a guide for the joint.

5. Turn the chicken, place the neck piece on the board and use a knife to remove the spine from the bib along the natural seam and cut the ribs with a little force.

6. Insert the tip of the knife into the center of the bib and slice the bib cleanly separating the two breasts.

7. Remove the chicken wing from one breast socket and separate the chicken wing from the breast. Repeat with remaining breast.

beef tenderloin

Much like dismantling a chicken, this simple technique allows you to buy whole tenderloins and cut them into large roasts to feed a crowd or slice into individual steaks.

During the holiday season, the entire tenderloin is often heavily discounted. Demolition at home is a practical and affordable way to take advantage of these discounts. A whole tenderloin consists of a head, middle (or chateaubriand), and tail, and is usually made up of two strands of meat. The biggest piece of advice I can give you here is to use your hands. Just follow the natural lines of the meat and you’ll be fine.

1. Remove excess fat and suet from the meat by hand. Most of the fat will pull off the tenderloin easily and naturally, but if necessary, you can use a knife to cut away any stubborn pieces that won’t come off easily.

2. Slide your hands under the tenderloin and place your thumbs in the center to find the seam between the two chains of meat. One of the chains is about 30% smaller in size than the other and usually has more fat. Cut small chains from the tenderloin (this piece of meat can be mashed for burgers or pounded thin for fajitas and other stew meats).

3. With a large chain, carefully use a knife to remove the silvery skin and excess fat from the meat. The trick to removing the silver skin without waste is to pull it back and forth and gently cut it off with a kitchen knife.

4. Look at the smaller tail section to determine the point where the tail should be folded under the tenderloin to even thickness throughout.

5. At that point, use a knife to cut the tail of the tenderloin to about 75% of the meat and fold the tail under the tenderloin to create a uniform, uniform piece of meat.

6. To tie the roast in a single layer, use a butcher’s twine to go under the tenderloin and wrap the twine around twice to hold it in place. Tie a standard knot securely to secure the strands. Continue this method until the entire tenderloin is evenly knotted. This method is most convenient if you want to string the loin and cut it into individual steaks.

7. If you want to cook the whole tenderloin, you can use the continuous knot method by going under the tenderloin again and tying a tight knot for the first hold. Slip that circle around the tenderloin and pull the line to tighten. Once again make a new circle on your hand and slip the circle around the tenderloin, doing the method until the tenderloin is tied tightly and finally tying it in a final knot.

8. If desired, trim into individual steaks or leave whole.


Butcher on the Block is a cookbook with over 125 daily signature recipes, plus meat stories and secret tips from butchers around the world.

Source link

Related Articles

Back to top button